Lisa Gungor from the band Gungor has been so kind to share with us some thoughts on forgiveness and letting go. I hope it can be a source of encouragement to you. ————————————————————————————————————————–
Letting Go – by Lisa Gungor
The best thing about living in Colorado (aside from the amazing weather, hippie folk, and having not one, but TWO Snooze locations) are the mountains.
Mountains offer this sort of escape from regular life. The: get up, feed the baby and/ or dog, go to work, pay the bills, clean the house, go to bed, and do it all over the next day things in life. These cascades of rock and dirt are majestic, grandiose, an irregularity in the regular earth. The rise and fall of decorated trees and snow-capped peaks compse the most exquisite art. Gazing up at them takes my eyes off of the “to dos” right in front of me and helps distinguish a bigger picture. It is because of this that the mountains have become sort of a spiritual place for me. I can escape the demands, the piles of regular business, and find a sort of Namaste in the mountains.
I’ve found that I have an incredible capacity to holding on to things. My husband, Michael, knows this gift well. No matter how much I try to shrug something off, it holds on, making it’s presence felt in relationships and my right upper shoulder – a problem in which the “Thumper” (one of those home back massage doohikies) has proven to be one of my most advantageous purchases. I have a hard time remembering where my phone is or what state we happen to be playing a show in, but yes, I can absolutely remember what sort of glance so and so gave me or what conversation with that friend was two years ago. Relationships are at the core of who I am; they can put me on cloud nine or run me straight into the ground. So often, I wish I were the introverted, aloof-loner that is self-sufficient and most often found hunkered down in a cabin; writing some brilliant post-apocalyptic, sci-fi novel…unconcerned about the glance or missing the last family reunion or birthday party. It seems so cool, a much more weightless life to be unconcerned…but I am.
I care about relationships and family and 3-year-old birthday parties, the ever-so-slight tone of frustration. I’ve taken a few personality tests in my day, one of which targets your main motivations in life…low and behold, mine is relationships. And when something is awry, I feel it in my whole body – in my heart and stomach and in the weight on my lungs that’s making it really hard to take a nice big breath. So I have to get away, I have to have that solitude that Jesus so often lived in.
A couple years ago, I began a routine of sorts – I drive up to Boulder, make my way to Baseline Rd, then hike up the Flatiron mountains. The trek up usually has its share of turmoil, not only in my hand-me-down grasshopper legs my father gave me, but in my soul. The journey up the mountain is a struggle I need, a wrestling with the Angel to sort out who I am and who I am not. So I hike and walk and stumble and stop to take in the view, then hike some more. I go all the way up to this place where an avalanche sits – spread wide, wiping out shrubs and trees. You can sit on this wide pile of rocks and see all of Boulder and down to Denver. So I sit there, snatch up a rock, and think about something that rock represents, something that I’ve been carrying that I need to let go. I meditate on it, forgive, ask for enlightenment, and ask that love could make its way into that hardened earth. Then, once I feel like I have let go of it in my soul, I throw it as far as I can – which sometimes isn’t far because of my stupid girl throw. But nonetheless, I let it go.
I do this again and again, rock after rock, until I feel like I’ve thrown off all the burden that I can think of. Sometimes I’m there just a short while, and other times it feels I need to lug rocks heaps at a time just to get back home that night. But I let them go until the wall I have constructed in my heart has been broken into small stones and cast off one by one. Until my soul finds it’s way out of the blankets of darkness. Until I feel peace. Then I walk back down the mountain. (Okay, to be honest, sometimes I skip down while flailing my arms wildly, all to prove a point of which I’m deciding not to get into at this moment, but yes, people do point and stare) Once at the bottom, I look back up toward the direction of the pile of rocks, and decide, to the best of my ability, to not pick them up again. I leave them on the mountain.
One time my Dad came to visit us in our ghetto neighborhood. My Dad doesn’t like where we live, and he lets me know it…often. Okay, so we have the occasional gunfire and crazies knocking on our door, the devil-spawn children (as my flamboyant neighbor, Paul, puts it) trying to break into the houses, and free left-over booze sitting in our front yard each Saturday morning. I mean, who doesn’t? Sometimes it’s really nice to hear the lazy song of the drunkard who is sitting on the car across the street (J). So no, my Dad doesn’t like the neighborhood we live in. This opened up a conversation that soon took a turn to an argument that soon took a turn into an all out yelling match. It was quit incredible – we brought up things that were brewing under the surface for the past 10 years.
A decade. Wow.
We threw the rocks that we had been clinging to for so long, we talked and cried and went in circles until it was all out on the table in a blurred mess. I had hurt him, he had hurt me, and we finally told each other all about it. We finally saw the other side of the story. It was good for us. It was good to let go of a weight that we apparently had been carrying for a long time.
It’s interesting how quickly we become victims; this person hurt us that person didn’t listen, so all of a sudden the whole world is against us. As a member of that especially feely community known as “females”, I have the opportunity to experience this on quite a regular basis. And it’s poisonous. It seeps into your bones and kills creativity, kindness, love, and all the good things. It makes you cover yourself in armor and lash out in anger at the people you love. I know a girl who has become the constant victim. This girl has a list (an actual written out list) of people who she has a grudge against. (I’m pretty sure she told me this because I was on said list) This list is a reminder to her of who to stay mad at…yep, really. Of all of the things that will nail you to one point in life and poison your soul – a mad list! She’s the victim. And she is holding on to so much hurt and pain that it is incredibly difficult for her to recognize anything good.
Holding on to pain, it’s a hard thing to step out of; if you hold on to it, it will run your life and you won’t like whom it turns you into. But if you let it go, you will find that life actually has a better color to it. You’ll find that people are not actually out to get you; maybe you really aren’t the target for all of their arrows. It’s strange how much of a choice it is – you can choose to see light or darkness, bitterness or forgiveness, death or life. Yes, there is plenty of darkness in the world, plenty of evil to weigh us down. But there is also plenty of goodness, plenty of light. But it takes forgiveness, an opening of the hands and heart to see it again.
What rock are you holding tight in your fist? That thing you keep going back to – the list, the conversation, the relationship gone wry, that thing you keep mulling over and over in your head trying to justify where you were right or wronged, misunderstood, hurt, victimized, whatever…it is only hurting you, only stopping you from experiencing the fullness of love and life. The trueness of love is experienced in its full capacity when we let go of all that is binding us. Go to the ocean or the field, to the city, closet, or mountains, wherever you can think on it and see it for the poison it is.
Let love seep into the hardened earth.
Open up your hands.
And let it go.